On this date (August 1) three hundred years ago (1714), our most glorious Queen was finally released from her earthly suffering. Queen Anne had hoped in death to be finally reunited with both her last surviving child the Duke of Gloucester (d. 1700) and her loving husband, the always affable (but somewhat dim-witted) Prince George of Denmark (d. 1708). (Queen Anne and her husband, Prince George of Denmark.) Queen Anne was the last monarch from the House of Stuart. Both she and her beautiful older sister, Mary II, are among the most under-appreciated English monarchs. They are certainly among the most important. These two sisters were the courageous daughters of the rigidly autocratic and stubbornly Catholic James II. Mary and her Dutch husband William III were bestowed the crown by a staunchly Protestant Parliament in 1689. William and Mary had replaced Mary and Anne’s father who, Parliament claimed, had abandoned the Kingdoms. After Mary and later William died without an heir, Queen Anne succeeded to the throne with the consent of Parliament, bypassing her younger half-brother (James III, later to be known as the Old Pretender). Thus, Mary and Anne helped usher in a constitutional parliamentary monarchy to the realm. With Parliament’s help, Queen Anne’s England challenged the antiquated concepts of “the divine right of kings” and “the great chain of being.” This gave Britain a relatively stable transition into an age of enlightenment, embracing such concepts as “consent of the governed.” Queen Anne’s personal life had been one of tragedy, however. She had long been plagued by crippling arthritis, obesity, and poor health. Unable to walk, she even had to be carried to her throne at her coronation. She also had been beset by a series of multiple failed pregnancies and miscarriages (at least sixteen). She gave birth to only five living infants. Among her children, the frail Duke of Gloucester lived the longest, dying soon after his eleventh birthday. Prior to her accession to the throne in 1702, Princess Anne was essentially unprepared for the role of Queen and the demands of government. Queen Anne, however, steadily learned to meet the demands and grew in her role as monarch. She led a successful war against an aggressive Louis XIV’s France (known as the War of the Spanish Succession). She helped to guide a Parliament riven by bitter politics (in the form of opposing Whig and Tory political parties). And she successfully faced a conspiracy by those who wanted to supplant her with her father’s son. (Those who supported her father James II’s claim to the throne for himself or for his son were known as Jacobites.) (Anne's half-brother, James III, the Old Pretender) Luckily, she surrounded herself with two remarkable advisers (Sidney Godolphin and Robert Harley) and a brilliant general (John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough). By the time of her death, Queen Anne had won a favorable peace with France, unified a potentially rebellious Scotland with England, and assured the relatively peaceful Hanoverian succession. (George I, Elector of Hanover arrives in London to succeed Anne in 1714) Towards the end of her life, Queen Anne found herself widowed and increasingly alone. Most of her friends and trusted advisers in her government and in her Court had been replaced. With the death of her faithful husband, she found herself vulnerable to scheming and conniving politicians and courtiers. Although only forty-nine years old at the time of her death, Queen Anne was physically and emotionally worn out. She had suffered from multiple pregnancies, crippling arthritis, the stresses of ruthless and partisan politics, and a deep grief following the loss of her husband and children. On August 1, 1714, the long-suffering but brave Queen Anne finally died. Upon her death, one of her physicians wrote, “I believe sleep was never more welcome to a weary traveller than death was to her.” During the reign of Queen Anne, Parliament was able to further exert its power and its right to a constitutional monarchy. With a greater freedom of the press and a powerful and independent Parliament, the people of Britain were now able to claim their rights as free men and free women. It is this sense of empowerment and the willingness to claim individual rights and freedoms that inspired American colonists a half century later in a land thousands of miles distant and an ocean away from London. These colonists could now confidently assert that they, too, had certain freedoms and inalienable rights, including the right to self- representation and self-determination. Truly, a great Queen has died (1665-1714).